Earlier in the year, “Birth of a Nation” was the golden egg. It was going to break through the #Oscarssowhite wall and Nate Parker was going to be a bonafide star. Fast forward to October and “Birth of a Nation” was merely a whisper, Nate Parker’s career is basically TBD at this point. By now, everyone has heard of the scandal that happened in 1999 when Parker was accused of raping a girl. He was acquitted of the charges but somehow it resurrected again right as his movie began to gain steam.
Casey Affleck is the lesser known actor brother of Ben Affleck who is currently starring in award favorite, Manchester By The Sea. In 2010, he was accused of sexual assault by two women while filming the Joaquin Phoenix mockumentary “I’m Still Here” while married (to Joaquin Phoenix’s sister, Summer). His crime was physically and verbally assaulting them by grabbing them aggressively, asking a male crew member to show her his penis even as she objected, crawling into bed with another, describing his sexual exploits etc. He denied the allegations at first but eventually settled in a mediation meaning we will never know details of the accusations.
While acknowledging that both cases are not on the same level, both situations are also not acceptable behavior. Just like in a domestic violence case, there’s no such thing as “hitting the person just a little”. In fact since Parker was acquitted and Affleck settled some would say Affleck is the guiltier one. So why is Parker’s career pretty much dead and Affleck on his way to probably winning an Oscar?
I avidly follow industry news and I am just now hearing about Affleck’s accusations. That’s how swept away this news is. It doesn’t seem to have affected him in any way. In fact Affleck told the Times that he does not feel responsibility for what happened, and that “it was settled to the satisfaction of all. I was hurt and upset — I am sure all were — but I am over it.” I remember Parker’s interviews being criticized for him not having any remorse for what happened.
I list the above just to point out the similarities in both cases and how it is hard not to think if race plays a factor in this? Again, bad behavior is bad behavior but why does it seem like the darker your skin tone, the harsher you pay for your crimes? Johnny Depp was accused of physical violence by his then wife, Amber Heard and it was almost like nothing happened. His ads were airing on TV, his movie promos kept going and casting news for upcoming projects for him were announced and I was in shock. I remember when Chris Brown hit Rihanna and before you could spin, his contracts, Wrigley ads et al were being yanked faster than you could say Umbrella. How sway?
This Buzzfeed article lists some reasons as to why both situations are not the same and I call bullshit on most of the reasons mentioned except maybe for #3 which is his connections and how the media would not have access to his high profile connections – Matt Damon, Ben Affleck. “He did not have the massive cushion of privilege to insulate him against a groundswell of criticism” and that’s a damn shame. I mean the dude goes on interviews and the assault is not even brought up. Parker did not have that luxury.
All I am saying is we have white men accused of rape and other sexual assaults such as Woody Allen and Roman Polanski (who won a damn Oscar in exile!) so it is a very difficult thing to not thing that white privilege isn’t rearing its head here in a major way.